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Author Archive | Gilles Barbier

A Budget Guide To Independently Chasing The Northern Lights In Norway

Bergsbotn, with a view of Bergsfjord, Senja, Northern Norway

Type Of Travel

Norway is as expensive as it gets, and since we were in the middle of the Artic winter, we decided against roughing it in any way… We chose rather comfortable hotels (especially in Senja), we rented a car in Senja (which actually saved us a lot of money), and last but not least, we went on several local tours (a significant chunk of our budget). All in all, this led to a horrendous total cost, the highest (average travel cost per person per day) of all my trips altogether! Continue Reading →

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Iran 2017 – A Selection Of 45 Pictures

Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollah,Naqsh-e Jahan or Imam Square, Esfahan

Pictures of Iran on my second trip… In April 2014, I spent 2 weeks in Iran and covered the cultural heartland of Iran (most of which has now turned into the “Tourist Trail”, except Na’In & Qom): Shiraz, Esfahan, Na’In, Yazd, Kashan, Qom and last but not least Teheran.

In September 2017, I spent 3.5 weeks and wanted to discover less visited parts of the country and covered Tabriz & Northwest Iran (Zanjan, Soltaniyeh, Takht-e Soleiman); Teheran; Mashhad & Torbat-e Jam; the Southwest of Iran (Sushtar, Choqa Zanbil & Shush); before returning on the “Tourist Trail” (Kashan, Esfahan, Yazd & Shiraz).

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Experiencing the Ashura in Iran

Ashura Ceremony in Ashkezar, near Yazd

The Ashura falls on the 10th day of the month of Muharram, the 1st month of the Islamic calendar. It is marked by Sunni Muslims with a voluntary day of fasting which commemorates the day Noah left the Ark, and the day when God opened the Red Sea for the Jews fleeing from Pharaoh.

For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a solemn day of mourning the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of Muhammad and 8th Prophet of Shia Islam, in 680 AD at Karbala in modern-day Iraq. It is marked with mourning rituals and passion plays re-enacting the martyrdom. People dress in black and parade through the streets slapping their chests and chanting. Some Shia men seek to emulate the suffering of Hussein by flagellating themselves with chains. A fatwa now forbids this in Iran, though. Continue Reading →

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13 Highlights In And Around Yazd

Amir Chakhmaq Mosque Complex

Yazd also has turned – deservedly – into a major touristic hub in Iran, and this is not without consequences. Around major attractions, taxis and touts approach visitors offering numerous tours and activities in and around town. But the good news is: once you venture a few streets away, you will be the only foreigner! Continue Reading →

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Esfahan – The Touristic Town Of Iran

Masjed-e Sheikh Lotfollah, Naqsh-e Jahan or Imam Square, Esfahan

Is there some truth in the Esfahani proverb: “ Esfahan Nesf-e Jahan ” or “ Esfahan is Half of the World ”? Discovering this city will most probably be the highlight of everyone’s visit to Iran, offering some of the finest architecture of the whole country, and actually some of the finest architecture I experienced altogether during my many trips. Continue Reading →

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Kashan ’s Traditional Houses

Khan-e Tabatabei, Traditional House, Kashan

Kashan has changed a lot since 2014! Three years ago, it was still somehow a hidden gem that most visitors would bypass en route from Teheran to Esfahan. I liked the quiet, Off The Beaten Track feeling to this city during my first trip there.

I was in for quite a shock when I returned to Kashan in September 2017. Quickly I understood that after two weeks spent in more remote, less visited parts of the country (Tabriz & the Northwest; Mashhad & the Northeast; Shushtar, Choqa Zanbil & Shush in the Southwest), I had now returned on the main “Tourist Trail” in Iran (Teheran – Kashan – Esfahan – Yazd – Shiraz). And yes, tourism has boomed, especially but not only, organized tours! Continue Reading →

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Ancient Oasis – Shushtar, Choqa Zanbil & Shush

Choqa Zanbil Ziggurat

In Southwestern Iran, in the desert not far from Iraq and Kuwait, the Elamites developed one of the first great civilizations in Human History, with amongst others the first fix human settlement ever created, dating back to the 5th Millennium BC! So on my second trip to Iran, I absolutely wanted to discover Choqa Zanbil, Shushtar & Shush… This was a highly challenging time during my trip, but one I clearly did not regret.

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